Press Trust of india

Officials put death toll in Pulwama attack at 40; CoI ordered

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Srinagar/New Delhi, Feb 15:  The toll in the suicide attack on CRPF personnel in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district has risen to 40 even as a full Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered by the force headquarters in Delhi, a senior official said Friday.

A Jaish suicide bomber Thursday rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a bus carrying CRPF personnel in Pulwama district.

“A total of 40 personnel have been killed in Awantipora in Jammu and Kashmir. Five troops are injured,” the senior official said.

While 38 personnel have been identified, DNA and forensic tests are being conducted on two bodies, he said.

However, sources in Srinagar put the toll at 49.

Amongst the killed is a personnel of the CRPF road opening party (ROP) who was tasked to sanitise the highway route for convoy movement, the official said.

In the wake of the incident, the CRPF has issued a ‘high vigil’ alert to all its formations in the Kashmir Valley and other places in the state and has asked its units to be in “full preparedness.”

A Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered into the incident, the official said.

The CRPF headquarter in Delhi also issued a list of 36 killed personnel who have been “identified” till now.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Director General R R Bhatnagar and senior officials of the force also came to Kashmir as part of a team led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to assess the situation.

More than 2,500 CRPF personnel, many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway at Latoomode in Awantipora in south Kashmir around 3.15 pm on Thursday.

The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack that took place about 20 km from Srinagar, officials had said.

Police identified the suicide bomber as Adil Ahmed, who officials said joined the Jaish in 2018.

He was driving a vehicle packed with over 100 kg of explosives on the wrong side of the road and hit the bus, in which an estimated 39-44 personnel were travelling, head-on, an official at the spot had said.

The powerful explosion, which reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron, was heard many kilometres away, including in some parts of Srinagar adjoining Pulwama district. It is estimated that about 70-80 kgs of high grade explosive was used in the blast.

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